Apple reportedly exploring creation of original video content

An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015.


Apple is seriously looking into becoming a video content creator in the way that Netflix and Amazon are.

The Variety report cites unnamed sources saying that Apple “has held preliminary conversations in recent weeks with executives in Hollywood to suss out their interest in spearheading efforts to produce entertainment content.”

The report says the business unit exploring the options reports into Apple’s Eddy Cue, who spearheads all of Apple’s content efforts.

Eddy CueVariety says one source who had talked to Apple said the Cupertino giant is looking to create development and production divisions within the company that would focus on acquiring or even creating original content.

This, of course, would put Apple in head-to-head competition with Netflix and Amazon.

Apple has gone in a similar “original content” direction in music. Around the launch of its Apple Music subscription service, Apple began taking on the look of a record label is several ways. Reports said Apple is producing music videos for people like M.I.A. and Drake. Another report pointed to a new Apple job listing for a music video producer.

Making TV shows is a whole new ballgame, however, and a labor intensive one. The Variety report might reignite the question of just how many circles Apple can move in without being stretched too thin.

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You can now edit files from Egnyte in Office 365 and Salesforce

The Egnyte booth at VMware's 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.


Egnyte, a startup with file syncing and sharing software that can run in the cloud like Dropbox and in companies’ on-premises data centers like Microsoft SharePoint, has developed new integrations with web-based Microsoft’s Office 365 and Salesforce Sales Cloud. The integrations allow people to edit and save files right from within Office 365 and Salesforce.

With the Office integration, you can now open and edit files inside Office desktop apps like Word, as if it’s just another file locally stored on a PC. The integration also works with Microsoft’s Office mobile apps and on the Internet.

An Egnyte employee was showing off the new integrations today at the Egnyte booth on the exhibition floor at VMware’s 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco. The company has not officially announced the news.

Box, which only offers cloud-based file syncing and sharing, made an announcement about a similar integration with Office Online earlier this year, but it’s not clear that the integration is working yet.

These integrations matter for Egnyte because people actually write documents in Word, prepare presentations in PowerPoint, and assemble spreadsheets in Excel. And salespeople live in Salesforce. (Okay, and email too.) It’s just a little easier for everyday users, and Egnyte is now able to say it has a native Office integration right up there with Box — now a publicly traded company — when it comes to support for the Microsoft workflow. Egnyte already has a Google Drive integration.

Backed by Google Ventures and others, Egnyte last announced funding in December 2013. Customers include Bloom Energy, Home Depot, and Ikea.

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This accessory makes the Apple Watch an old-timey pocket watch

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You want to go all old-school with your Apple Watch? The accessories brand Bucardo can help you out.

Bucardo’s Pendulum Collection, as it’s called, aims to resurrect vintage classics like pocket watches and pendulums, and transform them into wearable tech pieces.

Above: You could look as radical as this guy.

The pocket watches house the Watch in an engraved pinstripe cover or a hammered metal cover. They include a detachable chain and are plated in 18K gold or sterling silver.

Bucardo started a Kickstarter campaign to fund what it calls the world’s first “off the wrist” accessory for the Apple Watch. Actually, with four days still to go, the Kickstarter campaign is fully funded.

The accessories will retail for $150 online.

Samsung officially announces the Gear S2 smartwatch

galaxy s2 watch


Samsung has now officially announced its round Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch.

The watch, which until now had been known as the Samsung Gear A, runs on Samsung’s own Tizen operating system. The Gear S2 uses a unique rotating bezel, which can be used for some of the same functions managed by the digital crown on the Apple Watch, i.e. zooming in and out of content and controlling specific movements in apps and games. The S2 design also features Home and Back buttons.

The watch comes in two options — the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 classic. The Gear S2 classic is made for users who prefer a more traditional watch design — it has a black finish and a leather band. The Gear S2 has a more minimal and modern design.


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Samsung wisely made a version of the watch with a 3G radio inside so that users can stay connected even when Wi-Fi isn’t available. Gear S2 with 3G uses an e-SIM with voice capability.

(See the full specs of both watches below)

The watch is 11.4-millimeter thick, with a 1.2-inch circular screen with 360 x 360 resolution (302 ppi). The applications on the Gear S2 can be viewed with amazing clarity so that users don’t miss notification pop-ups.

Samsung says users can glance at notifications, and check calendars, e-mails, and news on the watch. Text messaging from the device is possible, too.

s2bThe Gear S2 comes with NFC technology for mobile payments.

Samsung says the watch’s battery can go 2 -3 days on one charge. A wireless charging doc ships with the S2.

A variety of apps optimized for the Gear S2’s circular user interface will be available at launch, Samsung says. “Through open collaboration with developers and partners, Samsung is continuing to enrich its wearable ecosystem and provide users with a more optimized and unique smart wearable experience,” the company said in a statement.

The Samsung Gear S2 will be available in a dark gray case with a Dark gray band, and silver case with a white band. The Samsung Gear S2 classic will be available in a black case with a leather band.

Samsung and other smartwatch makers have been under pressure to come up with some kind of answer to the Apple Watch.

Samsung said at a Tizen developers event July 30 that the new device would feature a rotating bezel for navigating watch content and controlling watch functions.

Specs:

Display: 1.2”, Circular Super AMOLED, 360×360, 302ppi

Processor: Dual core 1.0 GHz

OS: Tizen

Audio: Codec: MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+; Format: MP3, M4A, AAC, OGG

Memory: 4GB Internal Memory / RAM: 512MB

Communications: Contacts, Notifications, Messages, Email, – Preset text, Voice Input, Emoticons, Keypads

Health/Fitness: S Health, Nike+ Running

Features:Information: Schedule, News, Maps & Navigation, Weather

Other features: Music Player, Gallery, Voice, Voice Memo, Find My Device, Power Saving Mode, Safety assistance, Privacy lock


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Will the new Apple TV lure gamers away from consoles?

Apple TV


Apple will likely be talking about a new Apple TV box at an event on September 9, and trade publication 9to5 Mac says that the fourth-generation box will be the first Apple living room device that actively competes with video game consoles thanks to new hardware, software, and peripherals all targeted at gamers.

In an article published today, 9to5 Mac writer MarK Gurman cited sources with knowledge of the product saying that the new Apple TV will actively compete with Microsoft’s Xbox One, Nintendo’s Wii U, and Sony’s PlayStation 4 game consoles. Some of this may be wishful thinking on Apple’s part, but you can’t deny that Apple has disrupted the handheld console market (think Nintendo’s line of DS and 3DS systems) with its App Store, iPhone, and iPad products. I’ve thought about some of the consequences if Apple really does plan on this new marketing approach.

Previous reports have suggested the new Apple TV will cost $149 or $199 and ship with a built-in App Store and Siri voice command support. If Apple targets its marketing at gamers thanks to features such as Bluetooth controller support (which may not be that appealing), that would be a first. Apple typically throws its marketing dollars at broader audiences, but there’s some serious competition from the game consoles in the living room.


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The game machines are entrenched, selling from $200 to $500, with the games selling for $60 each. Apple TV products enable you to play apps via your iPhone on your TV set using AirPlay, which can wirelessly send the image on the screen to your TV. So while you play on the iPad or iPhone, you can see what happens on your TV. This solution targets nongamers or casual gamers, but it hasn’t proven to be a threat to the consoles so far.

At the upcoming event, Apple is rumored to be announcing a near-universal Siri remote control with voice commands. By itself, this doesn’t sound like it would be really useful for gamers. But the remote also has motion controls, so 9to5 Mac writes that could lead to some interesting applications such as using the remote as a steering wheel for a racing game.

Apple will also reportedly offer more support for game controllers with pressure-sensitive buttons and joysticks. These devices connect to iPhones and iPads already via Bluetooth connections. 9to5 Mac is optimistic that these controllers will be more appealing for gamers.

But it’s also worth noting that these Bluetooth controllers are already on the market, and they haven’t done well. One reason is that Bluetooth connectivity isn’t always reliable, and the controllers have been criticized — particularly by Nvidia — as being too slow. Nvidia’s own Shield set-top box uses a Wi-Fi-based game controller instead for speedy interaction that can keep up with super-fast fighting games. If Apple doesn’t support Wi-Fi-based game controllers, gamers might perceive it as a weakness and another reason to avoid the Apple TV box.

But in its favor, Apple has made it possible to create some cool games with high-end 3D graphics via its Metal applications programming interface, which enables games to take advantage of iOS hardware to the fullest. Games such as Super Evil Megacorp’s Vainglory and other iOS games in the works look really good. These games are likely to be much more interesting to gamers and, given the rapid forward progress, could represent the biggest threat Apple poses to the game consoles. After all, the way to beat somebody else’s games is to come up with better games.

And game makers may be more interested in making their games work with game controllers if they know that downloading games to the Apple TV box is going to be a real option. So if Apple makes a good enough case to developers, the games will follow, and then the gamers will show up too.

It may be a stretch for the whole family to join in on Apple TV gaming, as the family room TV is often reserved for watching TV in households. But the Shield set-top box has been quite popular among my family members for playing — Pac-Man. It’s not clear just how many families are going to go crazy over the idea of playing games on a TV via an Apple TV. But it’s one more entry in the battle for the living room.

Apple is reportedly working on deals with content providers so that users will be able to give up cable TV subscriptions, but that isn’t expected to arrive until later, due to difficult negotiations. Apple’s new set-top box is also expected to debut alongside an iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.


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Everything announced at VMworld 2015 so far

VMware prepares for the first keynote at the 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.


Enterprise software vendor VMware kicked off its big annual VMworld conference in San Francisco today with several news announcements, from new open-source tools to a new “intelligent automation engine” for making the best use of companies’ data center equipment. Other companies interested in riding the wave of attention this week have made announcements, too.

A lot of people are paying attention. More than 23,000 people are here at the Moscone Center for the event, and more than 50,000 people were live streaming today’s keynote. This is, after all, one of the biggest events all year in the world of enterprise technology.

For your convenience, here’s a roundup of all the news coming out of the conference. We’ll be updating this post throughout the course of the conference, so be sure to check back here later.


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VMware public cloud gets vCloud Air SQL, Site Recovery Manager Air, object storage

On the exhibition floor at VMware's VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 25, 2014.

Above: On the exhibition floor at VMware’s VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 25, 2014.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

VMware today announced several enhancements to its vCloud Air public cloud at the company’s annual VMworld conference in San Francisco.

Companies can test and run plans for disaster recovery in vCloud Air’s new cloud-based Site Recovery Manager Air. And VMware is starting to offer disaster recovery on vCloud Air based on usage, instead of just as part of a monthly or yearly subscription. VMware is also introducing vCloud Air Object Storage powered by Google Cloud Platform, the first new product to come out of VMware’s reseller relationship with Google, announced earlier this year.

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Nvidia launches Grid 2.0 virtual desktop technology with support for 128 users per server

Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

Above: Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Chipmaker Nvidia today announced the launch of Grid 2.0, the latest version of its desktop virtualization technology that companies can use to deploy graphics-heavy applications remotely to employees who are offsite.

Companies can buy servers packing Nvidia Grid boards and then use virtualization software — such as VMware vSphere 6 and Horizon 6 and Citrix’s XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer — to share the power of GPUs (graphic processing units) with Grid 2.0.

The new release can handle as many as 128 users per server, twice as many as before, according to a statement. And Grid now supports the Linux operating system, not just Windows. Plus the technology can now run on blade servers, not just rack servers.

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VMware unveils Integrated OpenStack 2.0 based on Kilo

OpenStack's fifth birthday party at OSCON in Portland.

Above: OpenStack’s fifth birthday party at OSCON in Portland.

Image Credit: Shari Mahrdt/Flickr

VMware today announced the launch of VMware Integrated OpenStack 2.0, the company’s second release of its distribution of the OpenStack open-source cloud software. The new release, based on OpenStack Kilo, which became available in April, will become generally available to customers by Sept. 30.

VMware first announced that it would assemble an OpenStack distribution at the company’s VMworld conference in San Francisco last year. It came out in February, based on the open-source OpenStack Icehouse software. “Customers will now be able to upgrade from V1.0 (Icehouse) to V2.0 (Kilo), and even roll back if anything goes wrong, in a more operationally efficient manner,” VMware product line manager Arvind Soni wrote in a blog post on the news.

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VMware launches vSphere Integrated Containers and the Photon Platform

At VMware's 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco.

Above: At VMware’s 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

VMware today announced technology previews for vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform — two new products that companies can use to build and run applications inside of containers.

Containers are an increasingly popular technology that represent an alternative to the more widely used virtual machines, which VMware has turned into a standard in the world of enterprise software.

Containers are an increasingly popular technology that represent an alternative to the more widely used virtual machines, which VMware has turned into a standard in the world of enterprise software. The fascinating thing here is how VMware sees the Photon Platform as underlying a whole bunch of existing technologies from other companies that have been gaining popularity in the past several months. That includes Docker’s Swarm, Google-led Kubernetes, Mesosphere-led Apache Mesos, Cloud Foundry — “all on Photon,” said Kit Colbert, VMware’s vice president and chief technology officer for cloud native applications, in a press conference before today’s general session.

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ClusterHQ partners with VMware to build a vSphere storage driver for Flocker

ClusterHQ T-shirts.

Above: ClusterHQ T-shirts.

Image Credit: ClusterHQ

Startup ClusterHQ today announced that it has teamed up with VMware to develop a storage driver that allows ClusterHQ’s Flocker open-source software to integrate with VMware’s vSphere server virtualization software.

The result is that companies can now provision storage for specific containers, not just virtual machines, with VMware storage software like Virtual SAN and vSphere Virtual Volumes.

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VMware announces EVO SDDC software suite with SDDC Manager, Hardware Management Services

At VMware's 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.

Above: At VMware’s 2015 VMworld conference in San Francisco on Aug. 31.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet/VentureBeat

VMware today debuted EVO SDDC, a new suite of software that includes several of the company’s existing tools for managing companies’ data center resources as well as a new “automation engine” and new open-source hardware management software.

The existing tools can handle server, storage, and networking virtualization. They include vSphere, Virtual SAN, NSX, and vRealize Operations, according to a statement VMware issued today at its big VMworld conference in San Francisco.

The big picture here is that VMware is finally going to provide a ready-to-go piece of software to let companies live the vision VMware has been talking about for a year or more: the grand “software-defined data center” that SDDC stands for.

Server virtualization is what VMware is built on. Now VMware is essentially making the other pieces a standard, even if they’re still not very widely adopted compared to server virtualization.

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Note: This article will be updated with more VMworld news as it comes in.

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Google+ brings Collections to its iOS app in latest update

Google+ Collections


Social network Google+ is bringing its recently launched feature called Collections to iOS starting today.

Launched in May, Collections functions similarly to Pinterest pin boards. Google+ users can create “a collection” around a certain topic and then use it to post relevant content like pictures, videos, photos, events, and polls. For example, you could create a Collection around rock climbing where you post videos of mountains you’ve climbed or pictures of pitches you’re scoping out. Collections are searchable and Google also provides a feed of featured Collections to help users discover new content.

The iOS version of Collections will also be searchable, though users will have control over who can and cannot view their Collections.

Google+ has had trouble gaining substantial footing as a social network. Though it boasts 2.2 billion users, independent data analysis indicates that only a small percentage of those accounts are active. While Facebook’s iOS app ranks number two among all iPhone apps in the U.S., Google+ doesn’t make the top 200, according to App Annie. Perhaps in acknowledgement that its social network isn’t working, in July the company said Google+ will no longer act as a user’s identity across all Google products.

Despite low traction, Google continues to build its social network in the hopes that one of its features will meaningfully stoke engagement. You can check out the latest version of Google+ on iOS here.


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